Baby Won’t Sleep During the Day
Sleep problems are an issue most new parents face at some point. Whether your baby won’t sleep during the day or she wants to stay up all night, sleep issues can be exhausting and overwhelming for you as a caregiver. While people are sympathetic to parents with a baby that doesn’t sleep well overnight when a baby won’t sleep during the day people may behave like this is normal.
The fact is, babies need a lot of sleep, and this means napping during the day. While it is true that your baby will sleep less as she gets older, she does need to nap and she should drop naps gradually. Babies generally give up early evening naps first, then afternoon naps. Many babies hang on to their morning nap into toddlerhood.
You know your baby requires a certain amount of sleep, but how do you determine if she is getting enough or if you need to work on improving her sleep patterns during the day? Some signs that your baby is overly tired include:
- Clinging to the caregiver
- Pulling her ears
- Rubbing her eyes
- Becoming disengaged or not reacting to her environment
Once you have determined that your baby is not ready to give up naps, it is time to find out why your baby won’t sleep during the day and what you can do about it.
1. Environmental Factors Are Important
Once your baby reaches two to three months old, she is sensitive to the same sleep cycle as an adult. This makes it easier to get her to go to sleep and stay asleep at night but can make it a challenge to keep her in bed at naptime.
While you do not want to create an environment where your baby won’t sleep during the day unless the entire house is silent and dark, leaving you tiptoeing around your home, you should do a few things to encourage quality sleep.
When you put your baby down for her nap, make sure the curtains are closed so the light is dimmer in the room than normal. It does not have to be as dark as night, but sleeping in a well-lit room is a challenge when your baby won’t sleep during the day.
Make sure the temperature is comfortable as well. If the weather is hot and you keep your house warm to save on utilities you may find a fan circulating air, not blowing directly on your baby, provides enough of a drop in temperature for your baby to sleep comfortably.
2. Make Sure Your Baby is Comfortable and Well-Fed
Sometimes you are just at your wits end halfway through the day. Maybe your baby has been fussing all day and you are counting the minutes until you can put her down for a nap. You may be tempted to put her down if she starts to doze off. Take a few minutes to check her diaper and look at the clock. If it is close to a mealtime she will rest much better and longer if she gets food in her stomach first.
Teething and illness can also cause discomfort. If your baby won’t sleep during the day during these times you may just have to tough it out. Schedule any pain-relieving medications as close to naptime as possible, and try to provide relief in other ways, such as giving her a cold washcloth to chew on if she is teething, while she settles down for her nap.
3. Provide Plenty of Attention and Activity During the Day
It is understood that you have plenty to do during the day, and it can be tempting to try to get those things done while your baby is keeping herself entertained. Playing quietly without an adult is a great skill that you want your baby to develop. You must never leave your baby feeling that the only time they have your attention is when you are doing the naptime and bedtime routine.
Make sure that you sit down with your baby and interact and play several times a day. This should be a special, intentional activity apart from distracting her when she is fussing, feeding her or otherwise meeting her needs. Spending time every day doing things that allow you and your baby to interact together and giving each other undivided attention makes her less likely to try to draw out the sleep routines just to spend time with you.
You should also be sure she is getting plenty of physical activity. What you do depends on her age, but even the youngest baby enjoys gently bicycling her legs or throwing punches with her arms, with your help of course. As she gets older and more mobile spend time each day making sure she is working both her large and small motor skills bypassing or rolling a ball back and forth, encouraging her to crawl to you, and cruising around the furniture. When your baby won’t sleep during the day you should make sure she is getting the opportunity to get plenty of activity.
4. Strengthen the Naptime Routine
If your baby won’t sleep during the day but sleeps fine at night, look carefully at both your naptime routine and bedtime routine. Is there something that your baby seems to enjoy in the bedtime routine that you don’t include in the naptime routine? Maybe she wants a walking tour of the house before you lay her down, or to hear a favorite lullaby.
Is the same person putting her to bed for a nap as puts her to bed at bedtime? If the answer to this is no, you may have the answer to your problem. A baby that goes to sleep well at bedtime when being put to bed by one parent, usually the one who is gone all day, but resists from the other parent may be showing a preference for the style the bedtime parent uses, or the naptime routine without the bedtime parent may remind your baby of the other parent and make them miss that parent.
Have both parents take part in the nighttime routine for a few days and see if that helps the situation. If there is no relief, you may consider reworking the nap routine. Rather than try to keep it close to the bedtime routine, switch things up entirely. Your baby may prefer this, as it will feel less like you are trying to replace the evening parent.
5. Consider an Earlier Wake-Up Time
If your baby won’t sleep during the day after you have made multiple changes to the routine, you may want to try waking her up a little earlier in the morning. If she is sleeping until a decent time already, waking up 15 to 30 minutes earlier may be enough to reset her inner clock and make napping easier. Of course, if she is waking up for the day at 5 am you don’t want to do this.
A baby that is sleeping until 8 in the morning or later could use an earlier wake-up. It is tempting to enjoy those early minutes of peace, but if doing so is preventing a nap later it is not worth what you gain. If your baby won’t sleep during the day, you should try to encourage the nap. If her normal wake-up time is somewhere between these times, say 7 am, you should use your judgment as to whether an earlier wake-up call is worthwhile.
You can try encouraging her to wake on her own by going into the room and opening the curtains, or you can wake her by talking to her gently while you stroke or arm or leg. When you are undecided as to whether you should wake her up early, compromise by opening the curtains and moving normally through the house. If she is nearly ready to wake up, she will probably wake up on her own. When she needs the sleep, she will probably sleep through this activity.